Tuesday, November 20, 2012.
The events of the past 72 hours are enough to give you a pit in your stomach if you’re a Boise State fan. The Big East is taking on the same look the Mountain West had the year Boise State committed to join it in 2010. Within a day, Utah had announced a move to the Pac-12, BYU declared its independence a couple months later, and TCU coaxed an invitation out of the Big 12 about this time two years ago. Now, Maryland is headed for the Big Ten, and Rutgers is riding the Terrapins’ tailwind out of the Big East, probably today, less than eight months before the Broncos are to join the conference. The natural move by the ACC would be to swoop in and grab Louisville or Connecticut, and boom—there goes that big TV money Boise State was counting on. The move to the Big East just feels dirty anymore.
Inquiring minds want to know: Would the Mountain West take Boise State and San Diego State back? You would think so. BSU and commissioner Craig Thompson were still talking as late as the final week of June. ESPN.com’s Brett McMurphy, who always seems to be one step ahead on the realignment carousel, reports that not only are the Broncos and Aztecs talking to the Mountain West again, but BYU is, too (although all three deny it). McMurphy says the catalyst was actually the decision to award one automatic major bowl berth to the highest rated champion from the "Group of Five" beginning in 2014, putting the Mountain West on equal footing with the Big East. BYU has no access. Now, renewing contact with the MW makes even more sense.
Where will conference craziness stop? It’s up to the fans. It always has been. This whole thing is supply and demand. More and more college football is going to pay TV, and the fans keep paying. It’s when the fans start tuning out of national telecasts that the subscription rates and the commercial airtime become worth less. When the airtime becomes worth less, the advertisers pay less. When the advertisers pay less, the networks can’t afford to pay the access consortium hundreds of millions of dollars. The trickle-down effect on the major schools will be profound. It’s just that nobody knows when the “when” will ever happen.
Let’s talk actual football now, and the continuing climb of the Boise State defense. At the point when Colorado State’s Chris Nwoke broke his 72-yard touchdown run on the Broncos with just over two minutes left in the third quarter Saturday, the Rams had just 101 yards of total offense. CSU ended with 229 yards, the fifth consecutive game the Broncos have held their opponent under 300. Boise State limited Colorado State to just 72 yards through the air, the fourth time it has held a foe under 100 yards this season. The Broncos are allowing 160 passing yards a game, third-fewest in the country.
Priority No. 1 for Boise State in recent years has been stocking the defensive line, and it has paid off handsomely. According to Scout.com, the Broncos picked up another D-line verbal commitment Saturday afternoon after the Colorado State game, as Nick Terry liked what he saw on his visit. Terry is a 6-4, 265-pound defensive tackle from Elk Grove, CA. "I had already talked about it with my parents and decided I didn't want to waste anyone's time,” Terry told Scout.com. “I knew I wanted to go to Boise State. That's why I decided to pull the trigger." The Broncos now have 14 commits for its 2013 recruiting class.
Washington State linebackers coach Jeff Choate has had a scheduled head coaching interview with Idaho, according to FootballScoop.com, and it has caused a stir up north. Not necessarily because Choate was an assistant coach at Boise State for six years, but because of what he said about the Vandal program in September. According to VarsityCdA.com, Choate said, "It's really not right what (Idaho) is doing to its players in letting them get beat so they can get a paycheck." That tells the Vandals’ stay-in-the-FBS faction that Choate is amenable to moving the football program back to the Big Sky. Choate has Northern Idaho ties, having graduated from St. Maries High and having been head coach at Post Falls High.
Another measuring stick faces the Boise State basketball team tonight after a 3-0 start. This one, a game at Big Ten power Michigan State, will tell the Broncos how tough their first three opponents were. BSU hopes one Jeff Elorriaga statistic from Sunday was an aberration—and another was not. The junior guard missed his first free throw in more than a year in the win over Louisiana-Lafayette. Elorriaga had hit 23 straight since his last miss against Utah last November. On the other hand, he pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds against the Ragin’ Cagins. His previous career best was five during his freshman year.
As for Michigan State, the only other time the Broncos and Spartans have met was November 29, 1982, in the first Boise State game ever played in the BSU Pavilion (now Taco Bell Arena). MSU, just 2½ years removed from their national championship with Magic Johnson and still coached by Jud Heathcote, beat the Broncos in the inaugural, 71-59. The Spartans were led that night by freshman point guard Scott Skiles, now the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks. This season’s Michigan State squad is no less formidable under Tom Izzo, moving all the way up to No. 15 in the AP Poll yesterday from No. 21.
Pro sports notes: The Idaho Stampede fell in their exhibition game last night in Winnemucca to the Reno Bighorns, 111-103. The Stampede’s top scorers were Durrell Summers with 32 points and Justin Harper with 20. Summers just joined the Stampede in a trade from the Santa Cruz Warriors, and Harper was the team’s first round pick in the D-League Draft earlier this month. Also, former Boise State star Titus Young is in the Detroit doghouse again. Young will be inactive for the Lions’ Thanksgiving Day game against Houston due to unspecified disruptive behavior during last Sunday’s loss to Green Bay.
Even in golf’s majors, there’s always a tomorrow. But that’s not really the case in the PGA Tour’s Q-School. It determines a player’s immediate future. Troy Merritt didn’t make it through the pressure golf that defines Q-School, tying for 50th at five-over Sunday in one of the six “semifinal” tournaments at Rancho Murrieta, CA. The former Boise State star finished the tournament with three consecutive two-over 74’s. That eliminated Merritt from consideration for a 2013 PGA Tour card. Nampa’s Tyler Aldridge came agonizingly close to the Q-School finals. Aldridge missed advancing by just two strokes with a 24th-place finish in McKinney, TX, outside Dallas. Boise’s Ryan Hietala, now an assistant golf coach at Boise State and a Web.com Tour veteran, played the same tournament and finished tied for 61st.
This Day In Sports…November 20, 1982, 30 years ago today:
On the final play of the game, now known as “The Play,” California makes five laterals on a kickoff return to score the game-winning touchdown as the Bears defeat Stanford in the Big Game, 25-20, spoiling John Elway’s final game with the Cardinal. The Cal players had to weave their way through the Stanford band, which had prematurely come out onto the field—with a trombone player being leveled in the endzone.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)